Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sometimes I come across a piece of fiction that tickles every single one of my funnybones. As in thoroughly delighting me. Charming me. Making me fall in love.
This is one of those.
I mean, don't get me wrong, I've LOVED Bennett's City of Stairs books and gushed on and on about those, but this one is a near picture-perfect mix of extremely detailed rules-based magic based on Scriving, or rune-like ancient language, to *persuade* reality to behave differently.
Basically, it's a hacking manual for reality. Nothing could be better designed to make me go squee.
Then give me a near-non-stop heist novel with a great thief, an AI-like skeleton key, a thief-catcher full of wonderful mysteries, himself, and a dirty town called Foundryside with corrupt Houses of writers, an old war of deadly physics-based-reality-hacking destruction ramping up into a new episode, and wonderful reveal after reveal after reveal for a meaty and delicious plot, and we've got ourselves an honest-to-Hierophant winner.
Truly. I never once got bored. Never once wanted to put the novel down. I was engaged from the first word to the very last and never wanted it to end.
This was a great story on its own, but the end really makes it shine. I could read this as a series FOREVER. And EVER. :) :) In fact, knowing Bennett's power of storytelling, I am pretty certain this is going to be one of my top-favorites for fantasy. Period.
Let me back up a little. Think of Sanderson's Mistborn for its magic system. Think about the best fantasy heist novels that jump from extremely deep worldbuilding and atmosphere and character-building into an ensemble cast that must band together against an utterly unstoppable foe behind impenetrable walls. Now get REALLY clever with the magic system. And go NUTS with history, implications, magic items that are more than what they seem, and a dark past that is waking up to take over the world.
Me ---> SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Nuff said. :)
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